What is the Fitness to Practice Policy?
The Student Fitness to Practice Policy (MPF1345) aims to provide a safe environment for the public, students, professional placement providers, and the University by instilling in students the qualities required for professional practice, and to support and manage issues related to students undertaking professional practice activities.
What are the MDHS Fitness to Practice Rules?
The MDHS Fitness to Practice Rules clearly define the code of conduct expected for practice in the relevant courses or subjects. The Rules also identify the Faculty Fitness to Practice Officers (i.e. course coordinators).
What kind of issues can be looked at through this Policy?
The Policy relates to issues such as inappropriate behaviour (e.g. misuse of social media, aggressive behaviour, failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries) and unsuitability for the profession (e.g. because of health issues).
The Policy is not intended for minor breaches that are usually managed as part of your placement or subject professional behaviour hurdles. However, if you were to make multiple minor breaches, or persistently demonstrate inappropriate behaviour/s, these may be considered a fitness to practice concern and may be reported and investigated as appropriate.
How do I know if my course is covered by this Policy?
If your course is listed in Appendix A of the MDHS Fitness to Practice Rules, then your course is covered. Here you can also find the relevant code of conduct and/or professional standards for your intended profession.
Why have I been invited to meet with the Fitness to Practice Officer for an informal discussion under the Fitness to Practice Policy?
This means the Fitness to Practice Officer has received written communication raising concerns about your conduct. The communication inviting you to the meeting should clearly set out what these concerns are. At this stage, the Faculty is invoking the Policy, but no formal action is currently being taken. The Fitness to Practice Office will discuss the concerns with you and, depending on the seriousness of the concerns, may:
- take no action;
- provide advice on how best to improve conduct and competence, and identify support and adjustments aimed at ensuring fitness to practice issues do not arise again;
- refer the matter to a Faculty Fitness to Practice committee; or
- refer the concerns for management through other policies or processes.
I have been suspended from placement, what does this mean?
Where allegations are considered most serious, particularly, but not exclusively, those that may impact on the safe and efficient running of a placement and/or the Faculty, or which relate to aggressive and violent acts, the Faculty or placement provider may decide to suspend you from placement. This is a precautionary measure and does not assume that any misconduct has occurred.
Where practicable the Faculty will seek to minimise any disruption to you. However, in some instances this is not possible. As placements are provided by organisations external to the Faculty, it is unlikely that it will be possible to be flexible in relation to suspension from a placement.
How will a case against me be considered?
Many cases are dealt with in a Preliminary Stage meeting with the Fitness to Practice Officer, where you may be given further support and guidance as to your professional responsibilities.
However, where the matter is considered serious, the Officer undertake a formal investigation and refer the matter to a Fitness to Practice Committee. This Committee will take an independent view on whether there is evidence to support the allegations of professional unsuitability and, if there is, recommend an appropriate outcome to the Faculty's Dean.
What are the possible outcomes of a Fitness to Practice Committee Hearing?
A Fitness to Practice Committee may:
- require you to undergo specified medical, or other health professional, assessment or testing with a health professional chosen by the University, with cost borne by the University;
- Make a recommendation for action to the Faculty’s Dean; possible recommendations may include a written undertaking to improve behaviour or to meet certain academic or professional behaviour conditions, up to suspension from the course until specified conditions have been met.
How long will it take for the matter to be resolved?
This will depend on the nature of the concerns raised, the availability of evidence and whether external processes are involved. The Faculty will seek to resolve all matters promptly.
Where investigators need to speak to a range of people, including those at external placements, this can add to the time it takes. Cases involving matters being considered by police, criminal or civil procedures, including professional body procedures, may be put on hold until those external proceedings are completed. This can extend the whole process significantly.
What happens if I am still not satisfied with the outcome of a case considered by the Process?
As the student against whom an allegation has been made, you have the right to appeal against a decision made by a Fitness to Practice Committee. Fitness to practice is governed by the Student Fitness to Practice Policy (MPF1345) and the Academic Board Regulation.
Ensure you have all copies of correspondence relating to the fitness to practice concerns, the hearing of the Fitness to Practice Committee, and the committee decision. You can submit an appeal via the Student Appeals website.
How do I raise a concern about the behaviour of a student?
Students and staff of the University are encouraged to raise it with an appropriate staff member in the course, such as a tutor, lecturer, subject coordinator or course coordinator.
Members of the public can email firstname.lastname@example.org to raise a concern.
What if I wish to raise a concern, but want to remain anonymous?
The Faculty will not normally take forward anonymous reports, unless corroborating evidence can be provided. However, the Faculty will withhold personal information about individuals involved in a case from other parties wherever possible.